Monday 26 September 2016

'The UFC tried to shut me up' - Nate Diaz accuses Conor McGregor of being a copycat

Joe Callaghan in Las Vegas

Published 03/03/2016 | 11:20

Conor McGreogr will fight Nate Diaz on March 5
Conor McGreogr will fight Nate Diaz on March 5

Nate Diaz has accused Conor McGregor of being a copycat and using his blueprint to haul himself to the top of the UFC pyramid.

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The Californian will earn by some distance the biggest cheque of his career against the Dubliner on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Such is the marketing prowess of McGregor. The Irishman has established himself as the most prolific salesman in the sport in the space of just two years.

It's something that Diaz, a veteran of 21 fights in the organisation compared to McGregor's 7, finds hard to stomach.

"The way that he's been saying he's the money fight. I've been saying that forever too but the [UFC] got wind of that and they tried to shut me up," said Diaz after his public workout at the MGM Grand on Wednesday afternoon. "They told me to keep that 'big money fight' shit on the low, so they kind of tried to keep me on the low and then when he said it, it's his new thing.

"As far as mixed martial arts and who the real fighter is and the big fights, I've already been talking about that since before he was in the UFC. Now he's like this new guy with all this new stuff and everybody's pushing it. It's on every article and every headline.

"The media are kicking him on, go ahead, keep talking but they wanted me in the back and to keep me on the down low. That's what I mean by I've been saying the same kind of thing."

Diaz lit a fire under McGregor in their first promotional get-together for the hastily assembled match-up, accusing the featherweight champion of being on steroids as he made the jump up to welterweight for this fight. There may again be fireworks when the two come face to face again on Thursday in Las Vegas but for yesterday Diaz just seemed to content to celebrate his elevation to headline, megafight status.

"[I've been held down] all along, especially when I started pitching for a bigger payday and better results for what's going on here because I've been putting in a lot of time and a lot of work," he said.

"I've been in this career now for a good little minute, two careers long in the NFL or baseball. I'm putting in a lot and I'm just wondering when it's all going to pay back. Unfortunately it has to be on a week's notice but finally I feel like something's coming back."

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